Joel Campbell showed what Arsenal are missing this season with his sweetly struck shot giving Real Betis Balompie a 3-2 win over RC Deportivo de La Coruna in La Liga on Sunday.
The on-loan 20-year-old curled a long-range effort into the top corner to put Betis clear in fourth place and demonstrate the talent of a winger who is still raw around the edges.
Campbell moved from Saprissa in his native Costa Rica to Arsenal last year, but was first loaned out to French side Lorient, before joining Betis in the summer.
Although blessed with pace and plenty of natural ability his performances have been erratic, but he made the most of his chance against Deportivo with Juan Carlos injured.
Deportivo had responded with a brace from Ivan Sanchez-Rico, or “Riki,” after a Ruben Castro brace had put the Andalusians ahead, but Campbell picked up a pass from Benat Etxebarria and fired home the winner.
In a message to the Costa Rica soccer federation, Betis coach Pepe Mel claimed that Campbell’s development has been affected by international commitments.
“Although they may be angry with me in Costa Rica, it is normal that a player doesn’t settle if he is all the time in a plane,” Mel said. “When he has a full season with us without leaving he is more in the team as he is used to our system. I think that is good for everyone — for Costa Rica and Betis — and if he does well, then next year Arsenal will benefit as well.”
Second-from-bottom Deportivo have only two wins all season, but they have played some entertaining soccer with a talented forward line inspired by the veteran Juan Carlos Valeron.
Riki should have put Deportivo ahead after 14 minutes, but his shot from close range was parried by goalkeeper Adrian San Miguel and then minutes later Valeron clipped the top of the crossbar with a strike from distance.
Deportivo had the majority of the ball, but Betis’ improved results have been largely down to a more defensive approach and the use of the wings to counterattack, especially away from home.
They took the lead after 38 minutes when fullback Ignacio Perez, or “Nacho,” crossed for Castro to head home and it was the same combination that doubled the advantage after the break as Castro side-footed the ball in.
Deportivo appeared dead and buried, but an inspired Riki headed in a Laure Sanabria cross and latched onto a loose ball in the area to equalize, but it was not enough with Campbell giving Betis the three points.
A late goal from substitute Roger Marti gave European hopefuls Levante UD a 1-1 draw away to RC Celta de Vigo, who went ahead through Enrique de Lucas, while bottom side RCD Espanyol under new coach Javier Aguirre drew 0-0 away to Granada.
Victor Casadesus grabbed a late equalizer for 10-man RCD Mallorca, who drew 1-1 with Real Zaragoza.
Glenn Loovens conceded a penalty and was red-carded after 12 minutes for a foul on Emilio Nsue and while Helder Postiga missed the spot-kick, he scored moments later.
Mallorca laid siege to the Zaragoza goal and eventually drew level through Victor four minutes from the end.